Sunday, April 9, 2017

Catawba County Parks - Bakers Mountain - Riverbend



The Fat Bald White Guy and his Faithful Hiking Companion always look to summit the highest point in every county....this time out we ventured to Catawba County and made it to the top of Baker's Mountain.   The park is located off  Exit 121 of Interstate 40 west of Hickory.  The park offers about six miles of interlocking trails and aside from the summit offers remnants of two interesting home sites.

The first one we encountered was the home place of Henry and Julietta Calloway Clark who occupied this site in the late 1930's.  All that is left of their humble abode is a stone hearth and the stone outline of the foundation.

But an enterprising Eagle Scout added a monument worthy of note.  One of Henry and Julietta's sons served in World War II...was a distinguished war hero...and never came back.
The path to the top leads from the parking lot...the blue trail is down the hill from the Park office....the red trail is up the hill....both take you to the top...we took the blue trail.

All along the trail are numbered trail maps...makes it easy to know where you are...also along the way are trail benches...more than I have ever seen on a trail!

The trail briefly follows a mountain stream before turning up the mountain and began a surprisingly steep climb to the summit.
My green/yellow coat certainly blended nicely with the spring buds on the trees along the trail...but the warm temperature of the day soon made me shed the coat for the comfort of a sleeveless t-shirt.
About 1.5 miles into the trail, we spotted our destination, the gazebo marking the summit of Bakers Mountain.  It is a 450 foot elevation climb from the parking lot...featuring a short but steep climb...similar to that found at Hanging Rock State Park.
On the other side of the gazebo is the observation platform.  From this platform, a wonderful view of the Catawba Valley outlined by the nearby Brushy Mountains can be enjoyed.

A zoomed in look at the farm below was interesting.
But the looming distinctive features of the Grandfather Mountain was the best view but I noted that once trees are in full bloom, I doubt you can have this view.

Leaving the summit we decided to take the red trail so that we could see the other home place noted on the park map...but as we left we encountered the Park Ranger driving up the trail....hey that's cheating!

Down the red trail we found the "boulder outcropping" noted on the trail map...and then we moved on to the second home site.

All that remained of this old home place was a well constructed hearth. When we encounter these remnants on the trail, it makes me appreciate the hardy character of those who lived so far in the woods.  If this old hearth could speak...the stories we would have heard!
The red trail ended at the park office and there we noted a interesting feature of this park. In the barrel pictured above are walking would seem you can borrow a sturdy walking stick for the trail!

This is a great afternoon hike....the access is a 9...the trail is a 9...well marked and in great shape....the views are an 8.....the effort to view is about right only because I got to see Grandfather...Overall grade is an 8 because the trail is so short...we did 2.65 miles...and we wanted more of a we went to another Catawba County Park.....Riverbend

The Riverbend Park is located off NC 16 on the Catawba River just below the Lookout Shoals dam.  It is well used by those seeking a great site for a picnic....mountain biking and hiking...the paths are wide and easy to walk.

But the real point of interest is the view of the Catawba River.  And we soon spotted one of our favorite creatures of the trail...a Blue Heron....resting on a rock in the middle of the river surrounded by slumbering turtles.

There are many miles of trails at Riverbend Park but we chose the trail that runs parallel to the river...and were entertained by the various views of this old river as it flows through the Catawba Valley.

We put in another 2.25 miles poking around the river...and greatly enjoyed the time at Riverbend....not going to rate this trail but will tell those who live in the area...both of these parks are great places to begin your hiking season!

And take it from the Fat Bald White Guy and his Faithful Hiking Companion....take a hike this season...there are wonderful places near and far to explore....

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